Name: Christian Greciano
Where do you live? Munich, Germany
Languages: Spanish, English, Greek, German, French, Finnish, Japanese
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I grew up bilingual. At age 12 I started learning extra languages. There’s a public institution in Spain called “Escuela Oficial de Idiomas” (Official Language School), which offers language courses at a very cheap price. For the following 10 years, I would spend all my evenings during the week at the EOI, which would become my second home. To be honest most of the time the classes were quite boring, but I enjoyed learning languages nonetheless and I passed the exams without much effort, so I kept going. At age 21 I decided to be a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as LDS Church or Mormon Church), and I was assigned to serve in Greece and Cyprus. That was my first serious experience abroad, and I had to learn a language I didn’t know – Greek – from zero. It was an amazing time where I put to use several of the languages I had learned. After my 2-year mission I have moved around various countries and cities (Darmstadt, Tokyo, Stuttgart, Munich…), never staying anywhere longer than a year. It has been a blast improving my language skills and to interact with so many other nationalities and cultures. I might settle down in the future somewhere, but at the moment I’m quite the nomad.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
Japanese and Finnish, definitely. I would love to be very fluent in those languages. It is in my plans for the future to live for a while in Japan and Finland, so hopefully I can fulfil my desire.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
After improving the languages I already have some knowledge in but in which I’m still not fluent enough, there are indeed some other languages I would not mind learning. The list includes Korean, Hebrew, Russian, Swedish and Esperanto, among others.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
French is probably the language I dislike the most of the ones I know. Or better said, the language I like the least. However, I find French women quite attractive in general! It’s one of those life ironies…
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
I love getting mind-blown when a language introduces a new way of expressing a concept or idea that I didn’t know about. Or, better yet, when it introduces completely new concepts or ideas. You really understand why certain people or culture think the way they do, since language indeed shapes and influences your way of thinking and your personality. Other than that, most people around the world are happy to see that you are making an effort to learn their language, especially if it’s a difficult and/or a not so common language, and they really appreciate your endeavor.
6. Some people say the world is really just going to have a few languages left in a 100 years, do you think this is really true?
Some languages will die out, for sure, that has always happened. Globalization also means that certain languages will be even more important than they are now, and that these languages will be easier to learn than ever before. However, there should still be a wide variety of languages for years and years to come. Unless, of course, a worldwide system is established where less popular languages are prohibited. It would be scary to live in George Orwell’s 1984 dystopian world, where the authorities even develop and push a new language called Newspeak - a harsh simplification of the English language, with the goal to make the populace dumber and dumber.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Do it. Start NOW. The best way to learn a language is speaking it, and that’s why living in a country where it is spoken is so effective: you are forced to speak the language more frequently. My recommendation is to focus on one language at a time. Once you have reached your desired level in that language, move on to the next. Learning several languages at the same time can be messy, I’ve done that myself with varying degrees of success. But I really became fluent in those languages once I focused on them individually and lived in the country.